AUSTIN, Texas — With all the talk about Austin's homelessness and ordinances, many people are left wondering how they can help Austin's homeless populations.
The most direct way you can help is to volunteer at one of the many charities and organizations in Austin dedicated to housing and helping the homeless.
Art from the Streets (AFTS) is a free and open art studio in which homeless artists are given the opportunity to make and sell art. This gives the artists much-needed financial support and self-esteem, according to the AFTS website. AFTS said it would gladly find something to suit your specific talents, abilities and schedule. Check out its volunteer page to find out more about how you can help this program.
Austin Free-Net's (AFN) mission is to provide technology training and computer access to the community. AFN has four different volunteer roles:
- Volunteer technology adviser: Helps clients set up email or Facebook accounts, write resumes, search for jobs, find bus routes and more
- Volunteer technology trainer: Assists AFN instructors give classes and workshops and sometimes gives their own classes
- Volunteer IT mentor: Mentors students in their ACCELERATE IT certification program, helping them navigate a new career in IT
- Administrative support volunteer: Helps with office duties, outreach and promotional events
The volunteer application can be found on AFN's website.
Casa Marianella is a shelter service specifically designed to help displaced immigrants. Volunteer opportunities with Casa Marianella include the following:
- Sorting mail
- Driving residents around
- Checking voice messages
- Sorting donations
- Organizing in general
- Spending time with the kids
Despite historically being an adult shelter, Casa Marianella has had an influx of kids in the past few months that look forward to playing with volunteers, according to its website. If you'd like to volunteer with Casa Marianella, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the organization's website for more information.
Caritas of Austin works to ensure that people have a safe home, access to food, jobs that provide a living wage and educational opportunities, with the end goal of ending homelessness in Austin. Volunteer opportunities with Caritas of Austin include the following:
- Serving lunch in its community kitchen
- Directly assisting clients
- Providing administrative support to staff members
- Help with donation deliveries and pick-up
You can find more information and the form to sign up to volunteer on Caritas of Austin's website.
Foundation for the Homeless works to build support structures to help Austin families. Foundation for the Homeless needs volunteers to help provide breakfast at the First UMC Family Life Center every Tuesday and Thursday. If you or a group you are a part of would like to volunteer to help out, you can find more information on Foundation for the Homeless website.
LifeWorks operates under three core assumptions: everyone deserves a home, everyone deserves to work and everyone deserves a chance to heal. LifeWorks helps to connect those in need with housing opportunities, jobs, counseling and medical help. Ways to support LifeWorks include attending a Faces of LifeWorks Tour, becoming an advocate and hosting gift card drives. Find more information about LifeWorks and their programs on its website.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes (MLF) provides several services to homeless communities. Its "Truck Ministry" program delivers food, clothing and hygiene products to people every day of the year; the "Community First! Village" is designed to provide affordable housing for the chronically homeless in Central Texas and its "Community Works" program provides economic opportunities to the homeless. To learn how to volunteer for any of these programs visit the MLF website.
The Saint Louise House (SLH) specifically supports single mothers and other women-led families that need more support than emergency shelters have the ability to provide. Volunteer applications and more information about SLH can be found on its website.
Other than volunteering, another simple way you can help Austin's is to carry around extra bottles of water you can give to those in need.
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